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    Retired miner placed homemade pipe bombs near Michigan stores, FBI says

    Federal prosecutors Tuesday charged a retired underground miner with extortion and attempting to destroy a building and accused him of leaving pipe bombs and threatening letters in locations across Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

    John Douglas Allen, 75, of Whittemore was arrested late Monday following an FBI investigation of a dangerous crime involving homemade bombs, coded letters, spy cameras and counter-surveillance tactics ripped from a Hollywood thriller. He is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in Bay City on Tuesday afternoon.

    The bombs, discovered earlier this month at cellphone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie, were stored inside boxes and contained handcuffs with either the nickname “Handcuff Johnny or the initials “HJ.” FBI investigators analyzed the bombs, which consisted of a metal pipe with two metal end caps containing explosive powder main charges. Metal spheres and nails were found within each device.

    Allen was charged almost one month after the first of several letters was also found inside a polka-dotted envelope, packaged inside a sealed zip lock bag near a telecommunications tower in St. Ignace, north of the Mackinac Bridge.

    The letter, which appeared to have been attached to a nearby fence but fell to the ground, contained a threat and extortion demand to AT&T, Verizon and other providers.

    The next day on Aug. 26, investigators found a second letter approximately 62 miles northwest in Gould City inside a polka-dotted envelope, inside a sealed zip bag, tied to a fence. Investigators collected the letter but did not open the bag.

    Investigators found the second bag tied to a fence in Gould City on Aug. 26.

    The same day, nearly four hours and 210 miles to the west, investigators learned a third letter was found in a polka-dotted envelope inside a sealed zip bag and tied to a fence in Ontonagon. The contents of the letter appeared to be identical to the St. Ignace letter.

    The letters were sent from the “Coalition for Moral Telecommunication (CMT)” and addressed to several companies, including AT&T and Verizon.

    Investigators found this letter during the investigation.

    The letters claimed CMT had almost 30 members who were “prepared to travel throughout this Country and begin distroying (sic) inner city tower communication,” unless several demands were followed, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.

    The demands included a $5 million payment and that the telecommunication companies cease distributing “immoral content,” including pornography, cursing and “all manner of indecent communication.”

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